The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has announced another troubling statistic in regard to young motorists: newly licensed teenage girls are twice as likely to use electronic devices while driving as boys are.
AAA recently conducted an in-vehicle camera study to determine all of the distracting activities that hinder inexperienced drivers’ abilities to safely operate a vehicle. The study showed that although electronic devices were popular amongst all teens, females were approximately twice as likely to use an electronic device while driving.
AAA’s Innovative Study Methods
Often the riskiest thing you could do with your keys is give them to a teenage driver. There are many procedures in place throughout the country to ensure that teens are experienced before driving independently, but nothing can the social distractions from a teen while driving-- except that teen.
“Cell phones, texting, personal grooming, and reaching for things in the car were among the most common distracting activities found when cameras were put in new teen drivers’ cars,” says Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The AAA Foundation’s study was the first to use in-car video to monitor the behavior of teenage drivers and the elements that contribute to distracted driving. As a result, researchers were not surprised to find that electronic devices were the leading cause for distraction. However, the fact that 15 percent of the subjects engaged in some form of potentially distracted behavior is an eye-opener for traffic safety experts.
Teenage Drivers’ Risks Vary by Gender and Age
The study found gender had a direct correlation to distracted driving activities among teen drivers. In addition to being twice as likely as boys to use an electronic device in the car, female drivers were also 10 percent more likely to engage in other distracting behaviors such as eating and drinking, personal grooming and adjusting various controls throughout the vehicle.
While some of these activities are, without a doubt, more distracting than others, experts say that the duration of a distraction is irrelevant; every second of a driver’s attention to the road is crucial.
“A second may not seem like much, but at 65 mph a car travels the length of a basketball court in a single second,” Kissinger added. “That extra second can mean the difference between managed risk and tragedy for any driver.”
Interestingly enough, there was also a direct correlation between the age of the driver and their likelihood to engage in distracting activities. According to the study, a majority of the distracting behaviors were more prevalent among older teenage drivers than younger ones, suggesting that drivers are more likely to allow themselves to become distracted as they get more comfortable behind the wheel.
Teen males also displayed alarming behavior trends throughout the study. They were twice as likely to turn around in their seats while driving and were more easily distracted by people outside of the vehicle.
“This study provides the best view we’ve had about how and when teens engage in distracted driving behaviors believed to contribute to making car crashes the leading cause of death for teenagers,” Kissinger added.
Do you think the AAA Foundation’s study raises a good point about gender playing a role in distracted driving? If you have ever been involved in a distracted driving accident or have any thoughts on the topic, please share using the comment box below.